Written in response to: Craveñho’s Universe:
I am writing in response to Ben Etherington’s latest Critic Watch piece. I enjoyed his evidence, zingers and conclusions, and it was a welcome return to the journal. Although it is a lucid, compelling, supported argument about Peter Craven, it is also a distinct portrait of a nebulous formation that might well be named the ‘Melbourne literary mafia’. Indeed, the essay shaped up that way by first offering a short reading of Luke Carman’s piece ‘Getting Square’ and some of the commentary around it. What we begin to see is the mapping of a nebulous social formation whom Carman himself was addressing. But who are the actors? What are the journals? Why does it cohere as something that makes sense for some people? Those questions are unanswered, and I, personally, would love to see that articulated by willing participant-observers who know ‘the scene’. That is one direction that is suggested and then illuminated by Critic Watch’s Craven example. After all, Craven seems curiously able to both epitomise and be ostracised by this coterie, imagined community, spectral force. What are the dialectical social relations of Melbourne literary mafia and how is that unique remains to be seen. Cravenho’s universe is one such undertaking in a galaxy that is not that far far away. If only we had more astronauts, satellites and probes willing to go it alone.
Robert D. Wood.